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MARTIAL ARTS HELPS DIAZ THROUGH NURSING SCHOOL

Muay Thai fighter Michelle Diaz is now a Registered Nurse

Being a true martial artist requires determination, grit and true mental fortitude. The same could be said in obtaining a nursing degree.

Combine the two and you have Michelle ‘Guam Bomb’ Diaz.

The Muay Thai fighter who trains under the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City used her combative traits to get through nursing school. GSPN caught up with the former Santa Rita resident and Oceanview Middle School student.

GSPN: You finally became a Registered Nurse over the summer. How satisfying was that to complete your nursing program?

An active Muay Thai fighter and coach at Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, Diaz fought her way through nursing school to earn her RN this past summer.

MD: I will never forget the moment I found out I passed my boards. I went home to see my family in California to visit and celebrate my graduation. My mom just picked me up from San Francisco Airport and we were heading home on I-80. In the car, I decided to check the website to see if the results posted, and next thing I knew… I PASSED! I let out a squeal and scared my mom, you know how Chamorro moms are when they see you react to something they don’t know about. When I told her the news, she began screaming and hooting and rolled down all the windows and told me to scream it out the window! We both started laughing and then crying. It’s hard to put in words, but only nurses will understand the pain and sacrifice it takes to complete nursing school. These last three years have been the most challenging years to balance, and once it was over, I felt such a relief. It felt like I had been in a never ending fight camp for years and I finally got to fight on the biggest stage in the world and come out victorious!

Diaz has always represented Guam in all her fights, whether it’s a Guam flag or a Guam seal on her fight gear.

GSPN: What feels better: completing nursing school or knocking out an opponent?

MD: Completing nursing school means I have a career that I can be proud of and one that I can do for the rest of my life. As much as I love fighting and training, it does not fully pay the bills. Granted, there is something very satisfying about knocking out an opponent, but it is short lived. My nursing career is something that I will do every day, will impact the lives of others, and will support my lifestyle.

GSPN: How can you compare Muay Thai and nursing?

MD: I actually have had to pull on my training and fighting experiences a lot in my current position. I am the Clinical Operating Room Manager and also training to be an Aesthetic Nurse Injector. I literally wear like five hats in the office. But, most of my challenges come while working in the operating room. There is such a high level of intensity, focus, and uncertainty that require me to be hyper aware, proactively thinking, and to stay calm and collected during moments of extreme stress. I do not have much experience in the OR, but martial arts training has taught me how to stay calm, problem solve in the moment, and take actions that produce an effective outcome. I can finally say I have learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

GSPN: It’s been a few months since being a ‘real’ nurse. Is it everything you expected or different from your expectations?

MD: I work in private practice, which is different than working in a hospital as a bedside nurse. I do not have any intentions of working in a hospital so I am not sure if I will ever understand what it feels like to be what most consider a “real” nurse. I don’t think people think much of a nurse working outside of a hospital but I find much more flexibility and the ability to learn more. It’s also nice not working super long hours or night shifts. This allows me to be able to continue training regularly, which is huge for me.

GSPN: It’s got to be both a physical and mental grind with work and then your training in jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. How do you do it?

MD: Honestly, when you love something so much you always find a way to make it work. Thankfully, my office hours are 9-5, which allows me to train in the evenings and weekends. I try to alternate training jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai, or some days I do both. I need to train not only as an athlete, but for my mental health. Work definitely has its stressors and it is a must for me to be able to have balance and an outlet.

GSPN: Someone like you needs a challenge. What’s your next goal either in nursing or in martial arts?

MD: That is so true LOL I am never satisfied and always shooting to become a better version of myself and continue to challenge myself. I am currently enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program on track to become a Nurse Practitioner. In my current job, I have multiple roles that require participating in advanced education workshops regularly. This is already a hefty load, but of course not enough for me. I am still training and honing my crafts in martial arts. My goal for jiu-jitsu is to compete at the Masters International Tournament in December and hopefully earn my blue belt soon. And now that I am finally getting settled into my new career, I would also like to get a Muay Thai fight in the next few months. Will keep you posted!

The ‘Guam Bomb’ still sets her sights on new goals despite already achieving lofty accomplishments.


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